Coal giant in stand-off with Indigenous land owners
The traditional owners of a vast area of land in central-western Queensland, Australia continue to stand their ground aganist one of the largest mining corporations in the world – Adani.
The Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) people have blockaded the main road to the Adani Charmichael coal mine site having served Adani with an eviction notice on 20 August. They claim the open pit coal mine is a major threat to their lands, which they have not given Adani permission to operate within.
W&J cultural leader Adrian Burrugubba stated that Adani’s actions are considered unlawful under W&J tribal law. “For thousands of years, we have been custodians of this land and it is our responsibility to protect our land, water, people, history and totems.”
“Adani has ignored our concerns [and] used their power with the government to try and criminalise our actions”, he said.
The ongoing dispute shows no sign of ending. Protestors who had been occupying the main access road to the coal mine had been cleared by a large police force under trespass claims by Adani. However, the group have since returned under a more robust legal claim – that Adani has accepted – and have threatened Adani with assault and racial discrimination charges.
The Carmichael open pit coal mine has the potential to be the largest coal mine in Australia and one of the largest in the world, planning to extract 2.3 billion tonnes of coal over the next 60 years. This is despite the coal being of poor quality due to its high ash content.
The mine has run into continuous trouble, both financially and in terms of viability. An initial AU$16.5 billion (£9.3 bn) investment collapsed after being refused by over 30 financial institutions worldwide. Adani’s main export partner, the Indian government, has also announced it will cease importing thermal coal in 2024.
Adani have argued that the W&J protestors are “not the registered native claimants.” This comes after a number of original registered claimants were removed from official documentation. Reports and claims of bribery, harassment and financial pressure by the mining giant also continue. Adani have most recently issued trespass claims on W&J peoples as they try to access sacred ceremonial sites without written prior consent.
Indigenous peoples make up only 4-5% of the world’s population but hold legal rights to more than 20% of the land surface and 80% of the planet’s biodiversity. These rights are under constant threat from governments as well as giant corporations.
The Wangan and Jagalingou people have launched the #StandingOurGround campaign, calling for people to stand with them in their fight to protect their native lands from a multi-billion dollar mining firm.
You can also join the Stop Adani Campaign, one of the biggest people-powered campaigns in Australian history.
Sadly, the crisis the W&J people is facing is not unique and resonates with thousands of other struggles Indigenous peoples are having to fight every day. Explore the icons below to discover more and find out how you can be part of the solution.